What are we doing here? | Part 1
The six months between February and mid-July of 2019 took us to places we had never thought we would be.
In Colombia, we do work in the northern and southeastern areas of the country. As far as I know, we have set foot in places where no American has ever been before.
We visited areas where the government was not allowed… areas run by narcos, a part of the multi-billion dollar illegal drug trade. We had access to areas protected by the Militia--military forces that engage rebel and terrorist activities.
But even in the midst of these extremely dangerous places, we felt safe and the impact we have seen God do was incredible.
Yet I found myself thinking… “what are we doing here?”
Let me take you a few steps back…
We gained access to these areas of Colombia through a friend.
He is a pastor from Bogota and has connections with the government.
A few years back one of the narcos in Northern Colombia was extradited to the U.S. and his plantation was left open. Our friend, the pastor, was able to use that abandoned plantation for people in need to put simple houses there with funding from the government to help the people. This has been a great humanitarian effort which is appreciated tremendously by the people in the area. The houses may be 4 sticks in the ground with tarps around them, but they provide shelter to those who had none and a community for the people.
Although they were given shelter they didn’t have access to clean drinking water. There is a muddy river that runs next to the plantation land which is still used for boats engaged in drug smuggling, but that water is nowhere near fit to drink without causing illness.
So when our friend, the pastor from Colombia, found out about our filters he asked ATTA to come to Colombia. He knew families would benefit greatly from these filters and the people would have hope for the future knowing they don’t have to worry about the water they drink.
So we went.
Side note: In every country we serve, we exist to build relationships with our local leaders, train them on how the filter works, how to maintain the filter, and then empower them to teach/train the locals they are serving. We are not here to be the hero’s. We desire for local leaders to be the agents of change in their community because it's their community. Our role is to build relationships with them and to work together on the backend. To be a support system in helping them bring clean water to their people.
And there we were.
Watching our local leaders teach and train families who are in desperate need of clean water.
As we were watching them train this community, they asked a simple question:
“Show of hands, how many of you have had a water-caused illness?”
Every single one of them raise their hands.
Suffers from water related illnesses.
That reality sank deep within me.
Then the leader said to the group,
“Today, you no longer have to worry about the water you drink. Because you now will be able to filter your water and that filter will take out everything that makes you sick.”
The community erupted with joy.
From despair to joy!
As I take a step back and see all that’s happening in Northern Colombia it blows my mind.
We are in places you just can’t get access to. Places that lead me to go, “what are we doing here?”
Is it even safe for us to be here?
Maybe, maybe not.
But I will be honest, I never felt that we shouldn’t be there.
It was clear to me that were meant to be there.
I’ve noticed, as God puts us in these places, that the power of clean water bridges gaps of hostility.
Americans in areas where narcos and militia rule
The unlikeliest of people uniting together to make a difference in the lives of those who are in need. It is amazing to see first-hand what clean water access can make happen.
Even more so, its amazing to see first-hand what God does when we chose to love one another in a real tangible way.
I remember when we were leaving, we had to let the militia know we had left. They expressed how thankful they were for us coming and for the filters.
I thought to myself…
“The militia was thanking us?"
“Is this for real?”
“What are we doing here?”
Then it hit me…
“God what are YOU doing here?”
I sensed him saying, I love them too Sean. Thank you for loving them as I love them.
Once again, water bridging the gaps between people and communities. Unity existing, all because the power of when we chose to tangibly love each other.